Skip to main content

BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Unexpected twists at the Fourth of July BBQ

Jul 02, 2024 04:21PM ● By Ernie Witham

Ah, the Fourth of July stirs up memories from my youth: blue skies, a beach filled with bikini-clad girls and myself as a carefree teenager clutching a foot-long wiener. Those were the days. 

“Your buns have mold,” my friend Jody remarked. 

Snapped out of my reverie, I responded, “Excuse me?” and cast a worried glance over my shoulder. 

“No, these buns,” she clarified, holding up a package of hot dog rolls that had expired around the same time disco died.

“And I’m not too sure about these either,” Karen added, holding up a distinctly limp hot dog with skin resembling that of a shar-pei.

You may also like: July 4th challenge: Can you ace our Independence Day quiz?

It was our turn to host the annual Fourth of July barbecue for our circle of friends, and my wife had left me in charge of the main course after I assured her that I couldn’t possibly screw up something as simple as hot dogs. 

She sighed, “Well, at least we’ve got salad.” 

“Salad?” Larry asked in disbelief. He’s a retired construction worker whose lunch bucket often doubles as a wheelbarrow. 

“Relax,” I reassured him. “The guys will simply run out and find us some more hot dogs.” 

“Now?” my wife asked. “It’s almost time to head to the park for the fireworks.” 

“Don’t worry, I’ll pick up some that are ready to eat. I mean, this is America, and it’s the Fourth of July. I feel just plain unpatriotic without a wiener in my hand,” I declared.

Larry and Scott nodded in agreement. We grabbed a bag of potato chips, which Larry promptly opened with his multi-functional pocket knife/blow torch/battery-operated nail gun, and then we made a dash for the door.

“We’ll be back before you can say ‘pass the pickles,’” Scott promised. 

Jody held up an empty jar. “Too late. Larry ate the pickles,” she yelled.

Within minutes, we were at the store, gazing at an empty rotisserie spinning aimlessly. 

“Another husband bought them all,” the manager said, “but I can offer you a deal on Italian-style Slim Jims. Douse them in mustard and no one will notice.”

“Karen will,” Larry retorted quickly. “She’s from Jersey, and her family’s ‘connected.’”

We hurried out and across the street, spotting a deli that was just closing. “Please,” I pleaded, pulling out a small flag. The three of us broke into the national anthem. 

The deli owner saluted us, then apologized, “Sorry, guys. Sold out of hot dogs yesterday, but we’ve got these.” She handed us a can of miniature cocktail franks.

We considered briefly, but she had no two-inch buns to offer. 

“Try the health food store up the street,” she suggested. “It’s the only place still open.”

They too were about to close as I wedged my foot in the door. 

“Look,” I said, showing my empty hands. “We’re wienerless. Don’t you have anything... Starlight?” I asked, noticing her name tag.

She smiled warmly. “Well, we do have a few specialty dogs left. Would you like the Marrakech Dogs or the Dalai Lama Dogs?”

“What’s the difference?” Larry asked.

“The Marrakech is made from a unique blend of vegetable paste and organically grown grains,” she explained. “It’s served on a blue corn and rice bun with a side of sun-bleached sprouts.”

Scott and Larry looked at me. I was almost afraid to ask. 

“And the Dalai Lama?”

“Well, we start with the freshest tofu...” the clerk began. I sighed, and the three of us turned toward the door. “...then we sprinkle on some de-fatted feta cheese and roll it into a lovely eggplant shell...” 

I reflected on my forefathers, the Declaration of Independence and all the proud wiener-waving men who had come before us. “...finally, we garnish with jicama chips and hummus dip...” Starlight paused.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

“Home,” I mumbled.

“Yeah, maybe there’s some potato salad left,” Larry added.

Walking into the backyard without any traditional hot dogs, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Women can have unexpected reactions to these sorts of things. But the last thing I anticipated was jubilation.

“I don’t understand,” I said to my wife.

She smiled. “Right after you left, the neighbors came over. They ran out of propane and wondered if they could use our grill to cook their hot dogs.”

“We saved you each one,” Karen announced. They held out three big, fat, beautiful hot dogs slathered in mustard, relish, onions and ketchup. Shakily, I reached for mine. Off in the valley, the sky lit up with the first fireworks.

“We’d better hurry,” Jody urged. “Before we miss them all.”

The women headed for the door. Larry, Scott and I just stood there, lumps in our throats, warmth in our hearts and, thankfully, great big wieners in our hands.

“What a great country,” Scott exclaimed.

Larry and I took a big bite. We couldn’t agree more. 

Sign up for our Newsletter

* indicates required
I am a...